We were up bright an early this morning to make our 10AM timed entrance to Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Habsburgs and the only palace in Europe able to rival Versailles. We took the "Grand Tour" which involved 40 of the 1,441 rooms!
The Holy Trinity Plague Column in the Graben. In 1679, Vienna had an outbreak of the plague. ABout 75,000 Viennese died -- a third of the city! The emperor at the time, Leopold I, apparently fell to his knees (which emperors never do!) to beg God to save his city. In thanks, Leopold had this monument erected.
Our wanderings then took us to St. Stephen's Cathedral, the "Gothic needle" around which Vienna spins. It's one of the most iconic images of Vienna! When we arrived there was a visiting choir practicing, and we weren't able to go into the main nave (which costs a lot of money anyway!).
The church has parts that date from 1300-1450, and covers almost an acre of land. This church was built large on purpose, to compete with St. Vitus' in Prague, and to show that Vienna deserved a bishop...hence the "cathedral" in the name!
The titled roof had to be replaced after it burned away in the chaos between the Nazi and Soviet bombs. It was rebuilt but 1952, an impressive feat, and proof of the Vienna's civic pride. Each person who donated money for the restoration now symbolically owns a tile on the roof of St. Stephen's Cathedral.
Those giant red floating balls looked silly in the daytime, but at night when they light up, it looks magical.
Oh, and right before the shops at the Christmas market closed, we impassively purchased this MASSIVE cream horn from a little old lady selling sweets. Although I have no idea when we'll be able to eat it! On to Cesky Krumlov tomorrow morning. Goodbyes, thanks, and lots of love to Vienna and it's residents (Georg and Gundi especially) for the fond and happy memories!